Modelling again: whisky casks this time.

May 30, 2017

Some high-speed painting…got about 100 casks to paint and weather for my tiny Loch Dhu Distillery layout scheme…

Phew! Nearly done!
All the colours are by ‘Lifecolour’. There’s no doubt, the Italians have done a great job with modelling paints over the years.


Peckett appreciation…Loch Dhu’s newest locomotive.

January 3, 2017


Despite my best intentions, the new Hornby ‘Peckett’ 0-4-0ST locomotive proved to be totally irresistible! I chose the plainest one offered by Hornby for Loch Dhu Distillery which was supplied by Crafty Hobbies of Barrow-in-Furness – my thanks to Shelagh for her help in securing the model. It will be simple to add etched nameplates and new works plates to transform the loco into ‘Loch Dhu No.2’.


Whilst I organise some new etched plates for the model, it has been undergoing a little testing on my OO gauge Loch Dhu layout and after a short running-in period, it told me of some over enthusiastic grasses on the siding and a slightly misaligned rail joiner. otherwise, running was impeccable.


Track weeds were trimmed back a little to clear the low slung chassis of the loco. It is a beautifully built model with smooth valve gear action and good shunting capability. When a decoder is fitted, it will be adjusted for a low maximum speed appropriate to an industrial loco.


Fun with some Bachmann wagons. I am in agreement with many that this loco could turn out to be a big seller for Hornby.


A lovely little model and the second 0-4-0ST to be acquired by Loch Dhu Distillery (from the Manchester Ship Canal Co. and Esso Petroleum) for shunting duties. It will work alongside an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST once its identity has been changed. Apparently, negotiations are underway to acquire a third locomotive for the distillery: another Andrew Barclay – this time a smaller 9-inch version in late pre-war condition. Rumour has it that the distillery has its eyes on Dailuaine No. 1…

Dailuaine No.1: disgracefully stuffed and mounted at a distillery it never worked and with which it has no association. Time it was removed and restored in fully working condition. This loco is an important part of Speyside line history. It was allowed to work the main line between Carron and the Dailuaine Siding to serve the Imperial Distillery as well as Dailuaine itself.

Dailuaine No.1, an Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST. it is disgracefully stuffed and mounted at a distillery it never worked and with which it has no association. Time it was removed and restored in fully working condition. This loco is an important part of Speyside line history. It was allowed to work the main line between Carron and the Dailuaine Siding to serve the Imperial Distillery as well as Dailuaine itself.

Winter walking: Sgùrr Breac.

December 30, 2016

Approaching the summit of Sgùrr Breac in cloud and with a 40 mph SW wind.

To counter the excesses of Christmas, I made an attempt to bag the last two Munros in the Fannaichs. A small weather window opened up on Tuesday (27th December) after the second of two very intense low pressure weather systems had blown through leaving a fresh breezy day to attempt the walk. I had no idea how much snow was left on the Fannaichs at this time, so went equipped with winter gear including ice axe for traversing snow fields which may (or may not) be frozen and extensive on the lee slopes of the hills. My targets were Sgùrr Breac and A’ Chailleach, the two most westerly of the Fannaichs.


Loch a’ Bhracin near the starting point on the A832. A morning shot.

As it turned out, the wind was too severe to allow a climb of both Munros in the short time available in mid winter with dusk at around 15.45 hrs. depending on cloud cover. I was not keen on clambering back down through Allt Breabaig in near darkness, not even with a head torch and other light.


I climbed up onto the ridge at Leitir Fhearna at the start of the walk to reach the start of a ridge walk along Druim Reidh that would take be to the top which lies between the two mountains. The wind chill and speed made walking challenging and with the turn back time approaching, I decided to leave A’ Chailleach for another day and concentrate on climbing Sgùrr Breac. Once completing the top, I walked down the south east side towards Allt the pass or bealach (Allt Leac a’ Bhealaich to the south of the pass and Allt Breabaig to the north of the pass) which separates Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala from Sgùrr Breac. The bealach was the route for the return walk which turned out to be relatively sheltered. I have used the Allt Breabaig bealach route from the north before and in much better weather conditions too!



The view west from Druim Reidh on the approach to Toman Coinnich, a top which sits between the two Munros. The picture was taken just before entering the cloud sitting over the hills.



A panorama from just below the summit of Sgùrr Breac. The shot was taken just below the cloud base. Loch Fannich can be seen in the distance and the Munros Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala also make it into the shot.


Approaching the top of the bealach or pass from the south for the return leg of the walk.



Shelter at the top of the pass. Beyond, to the north is the walk-out through Allt Breabaig which was very wet with snow melt. Even the path had assumed the role of a small burn!


A sight for tired feet – Loch a’ Bhracin at the end of the walk at dusk. Only half a mile to go to reach the car!





Sgùrr nan Each, Sgùrr nan Clach Geala, Meall a’ Chrasgaidh and Sgùrr Mòr (again)

October 11, 2016

Allt Breabaig looking south up the pass.

A desire to hit the mountain trails reached crisis point this weekend past as a period of calm Autumn weather settled over the Scottish Highlands, presenting reasonably clear air and a good chance of cloud-free Munros. Back to the Fannaichs (Fannichs) to tackle a trio of tops which form a second arm of the mountain range with a north-south axis from Sgùrr Mòr towards Loch Fannich. The walk started at Loch a’ Bhracin near the A832 with a gentle ramble south up Allt Breabaig to a pass or bealach.


The saddle between Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala looking back down towards the top of the pass.



Mountains and more mountains – a long walk plus altitude equals happiness.

Upon reaching the top of the bealach, I turned east and climbed the saddle between Sgùrr nan Each and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala. Sgùrr nan Each is the most southerly Munro of this arm of the Fannichs and rises to 922 metres.


Sgùrr nan Each 360 degree panorama with Sgùrr nan Clach Geala to the left of centre of the picture.

From Sgùrr nan Each, I turned north to retrace my steps back down the saddle of the mountains which was followed by the long climb up Sgùrr nan Clach Geala (1093 metres).


Looking town the crags of Sgùrr nan Clach Geala with a rocky top called Càrn na Chriche in the back ground.



360 degree panorama from Sgùrr nan Clach Geala. Summit cairn (south) to the extreme left of the shot. Centre of the image looks east with Sgùrr Mòr to the right.

Timing on this walk was important if Sgùrr Mòr was to be climbed again. I had to leave the summit of Sgùrr nan Clach Geala no later than 13.30 hrs to be sure to fit in all four Munros within the planned walking time. I have walked up Sgùrr Mòr before, in poor conditions which made good photography impossible. On this expedition, I approached the mountain from the opposite flank, starting with a good scramble down the loose rocks on the north side of Sgùrr nan Clach Geala, over the rocky top of Càrn na Chriche and a long clamber over the boulders of the north west flank of Sgùrr Mòr. Last time, I approached the mountain from the south east after climbing Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich.

Sgurr Mor OMWB

Last time!


Second visit and a cloud-free summit!



The 360 degree panorama impossible to obtain on my last visit to Sgùrr Mòr with some fellow walkers enjoying the views.


From there. I retraced my steps back down the north west flank and back over Càrn na Chriche to reach the last Munro of the day: Meall a’ Chrasgaidh (934 metres). Nothing spectacular: a rounded summit with a cairn and shelter. The ground between Meall a’ Chrasgaidh and Càrn na Chriche presented some of the easiest walking of the day allowing some time to be made up by running part of it.


Approaching Meall a’ Chrasgaidh as a brisk walk with Sgùrr nan Clach Geala in the back ground.



360 degree panorama from Meall a’ Chrasgaidh allowing a view of Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich for the first time that day. Sgùrr Mòr is centre with Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich behind left and Sgùrr nan Clach Geala right of centre.



A five-minute break to admire the view and pay due respect to the four Munros of the day before heading back to the car.



Allt Breabaig on the walk out towards Loch a’ Bhracin.



Xenophobia has no place in Scotland.

October 7, 2016


To all those who have chosen Scotland to be their home – I am truly sorry for all that is now happening – overseas-born child/school registrations, worker registrations, naming and shaming of companies and the demonisation of overseas-born citizens (I hate the word ‘foreign’). I particularly feel for EU citizens that came to the UK to live, having spent so much of my childhood living in Europe where I was made welcome. I am personally embarrassed and upset by the populist xenophobia and bigotry that has emerged in main stream UK politics in place of serious policy debate.

Scotland wants no part in it as you can see statement by Nicola Sturgeon FM above. I want no part in it. I am pro-European and wish the EU would do more to help Scotland emerge from this extreme right-wing and dangerous political situation and take its place in the European family of nations as a full member state. It’s time the Saltire flew alongside the other European member state flags outside the EU institution buildings.

Saor Alba.



IMOG Harvester Run 2016 – Minis, mountains and Loch Ness!

September 19, 2016
Classic Minis - the same car, but all sorts of colours, fittings and character!

Classic Minis – the same car, but all sorts of colours, fittings and character!

Yesterday, ‘The Min’ and I joined in the Inverness Mini Owners Group (IMOG) Autumn run along Loch Ness to Fort Augustus via a circuitous route over the A887 and A87. The group calls the trip its ‘Harvester Run’ and the circuit around Loch Ness, the ‘Lochnessring’.


The route was: Inverness – Drumnadrochit – Invermoriston on the A82, running west along the north side of Loch Ness.

Invermoriston – Beinneun Forest up Glen Moriston on the A887 Kyle of Lochalsh road.

A87 to Invergarry, A82 east to Fort Augustus.

Return was east along the south side of Loch Ness on the B862 for 10 miles; B852 to Foyers, finishing off at Dores Inn just west of the Inverness outskirts to complete the ring.

Right, on to the road! Plenty of thrash and a great deal of attention from tourists and other motorists as we powered along the A82 past Drumnadrochit and on to the junction with the A887 at Invermoriston. Minis can shift when they want to and the road is a great one to test their superb road holding capability. I really began to appreciate the road holding performance of the Yokahama A539 tyres I had fitted this spring, despite the relatively high cost of them. Turn right on to the A887 for more thrash – increasingly uphill at this point.

Turned left on to the A87 at Beinneun Forest after some pretty spirited running 15 miles along the A887 where the first stop was made in the lay-by just beyond the junction. A lay-by crammed with classic Minis by the time we had all arrived.


Showing off and why not when your car looks a good as this!





Ready to move off – the silver BMW was lead car.

From there, A87 to Invergarry, turning left back onto the A82 for the short run to Fort Augustus, the town at the head of Loch Ness where the Caledonian canal starts once again with a fine ladder of locks. The Minis headed to the point where the canal enters Loch Ness for a photo stop. The popularity of the classic Mini seems unabated judging by the reaction from tourists on our pretty chaotic and noisy arrival.





After lunch, a trip on Loch Ness on one of the small cruise boats, ‘The Legend of Loch Ness’ ( was followed up by a run east along the south side of Loch Ness along the B862 for ten miles before turning on to the single-track and winding B852 to Foyers to see the Falls of Foyers.


Legend of Loch Ness with Fort Augustus in the background.


Departure, with swing bridge and lock gates.


Heading east down Loch Ness. No sign of Nessie…


Return run back to Fort Augustus with west coast mountains dominating the skyline.


Entering the Caledonian Canal with a wee light house on the left bank.

From there, a run along the south side of Loch Ness to Dores and a final blether at the Dores Inn to finish the trip. Fortunately, the threatening rain held off until that point and did not last too long. A brilliantly arranged tour with the bonus of a trip on Loch Ness. Sixteen classic Minis, of various shapes, sizes, colours and character took part in the run and no one suffered any technical issues or break-downs either. A perfect day!





‘The Min’ in the thick of the action at Fort Augustus.


Bulling up for ‘Lochnessring’ tour…with I.M.O.G.

September 17, 2016


A few hours were spent adding a further layer of polish to ‘The Min’. She is now all set for a circumnavigation of Loch Ness tomorrow (18th September) with the Inverness Mini Owners Group on its Harvester Run – known as the ‘lochnessring’ tour.


She was photographed whilst waiting for the polish to dry sufficiently to buff up the paint work to a high shine.